King Charles snubs Andrew and Harry as he asks for Princess Anne and Prince Edward to become stand-ins

14 November 2022, 22:56 | Updated: 15 November 2022, 00:50

Charles said the aim of the increase was to "ensure continued efficiency of public business"
Charles said the aim of the increase was to "ensure continued efficiency of public business". Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

King Charles has snubbed Andrew and Harry as he asked for the Princess Royal and Prince Edward to deputise for him.

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The monarch's intention was announced in a signed message read to the House of Lords.

Charles said the aim of the increase was to "ensure continued efficiency of public business when I am unavailable".

Provisions for the counsellors are made under the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953 and those who can currently stand in for Charles include the Queen Consort, and the four most senior adults in the line of succession - Prince of Wales, Harry, Andrew and Princess Beatrice.

During the late Queen's reign, the Counsellors of State dilemma was left unresolved, with sources saying there would be no change in the law despite the scandal surrounding Andrew, and Harry's permanent departure.

Andrew stepped down from public life over his friendship with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2019.

The late Queen's second son went on to pay millions to settle a civil sexual assault case to a woman he claimed never to have met.

Meanwhile, Harry stepped down to move his family to the US.

Public debate and pressure to resolve the situation increased when the Queen caught Covid and became increasingly frail.

But as the new King, Charles has moved to address the issue, appearing to underline there is no way back into public life for his brother Andrew.

The message was read out on the King's 74th birthday.

Read more: Happy birthday Charles! King celebrates 74th birthday with gun salutes and new unseen portrait

Read more: King Charles leads Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph for the first time as monarch

The changes came as the King celebrated his birthday.
The changes came as the King celebrated his birthday. Picture: Alamy

Speaking at the despatch box in the upper chamber, Lord Parker said he had the honour to present a message from the King "signed by his own hand".

The independent crossbencher told peers: "The message is as follows: 'To ensure continued efficiency of public business when I am unavailable such as while I am undertaking official duties overseas, I confirm that I would be most content, should Parliament see fit, for the number of people who may be called upon to act as Counsellors of State under the terms of the Regency Acts 1937 to 1953 to be increased to include my sister and brother - the Princess Royal and the Earl of Wessex and Forfar - both of whom have previously undertaken this role'."

There were approving shouts of "hear, hear" from the red benches at the end of the King's message being read out.

Harry now lives in the US
Harry now lives in the US. Picture: Alamy
Andrew stepped down from public life over his friendship with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2019.
Andrew stepped down from public life over his friendship with paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2019. Picture: Alamy

It comes after Labour Peer Viscount Stansgate, the son of the late left-wing firebrand Tony Benn, recently questioned the current list of royals able to officiate when the King is not available, given it included Andrew and Harry "one of whom has left public life and the other of whom has left the country".

It is thought any changes to legislation to increase the number of counsellors would be completed later this year before the prospect of the King and Queen Consort going on overseas tours in 2023, which may coincide with the Prince and Princess of Wales also being out of the country.

Counsellors of State are authorised to carry out most of the official duties of the Sovereign like attending Privy Council meetings, signing routine documents and receiving the credentials of new ambassadors to the UK.

Anne can now be called upon to act as Counsellor of State
Anne can now be called upon to act as Counsellor of State. Picture: Alamy
Prince Edward will be able to deputise King Charles
Prince Edward will be able to deputise King Charles. Picture: Alamy

The message was also delivered in the House of Commons.

Raising a point of order, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said: "It may be of help if I inform the House that honourable members will have the opportunity to consider a response to His Majesty's gracious message ahead of the Opposition Day debate tomorrow.

"It may also help if I inform the House that there will be legislation relating to this message for the House to consider in due course.

"Should the House agree to the humble address as first business tomorrow, that legislation will provide a proper opportunity to debate the matter that has been raised."

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment.

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